I'm in Las Vegas today, where I will be reporting live tomorrow at one of the largest retail conventions of the year, the MAGIC Marketplace.
I'm here because the numbers in Vegas still look bad, yet people are feeling more upbeat.
By any metric you look at visitors, occupancy, gaming, room rates, the declines continue. The average room rate is now $84.50, a 26 percent drop from a year ago.
One reader stayed at the Excalibur last week for $31 a night. "High-end shops and gaming tables ($25+) were waaaay slower," he wrote me. "Low-end deals ruled such as all-day buffet wristbands."
In what may be the best bargain yet, the Wynn is offering private jet travelfrom Burbank to Vegas aboard a chartered jet (no security lines, no disrobing before the TSA) and three nights at the Wynn, plus other extras, for $569. Did I mention the private jet?
The result of all these price cuts? There are people in Las Vegas. "Things seem to be getting better," the cabbie told me on the way over to Treasure Island, where I will be interviewing billionaire owner Phil Ruffin, who bought the casino/hotel from MGM Mirage this year for $775 million. The man who sold land on the Strip for $1.24 billion at the top of the market a few years ago may have bought Treasure Island at the bottom of the market.
Later I'll interview MGM Mirage CEO Jim Murren on the status of the massive $8.4 billion CityCenter development, and whether MGM is out of the woods financially.
All this and more throughout the day tomorrow on CNBC, but I can't help but wonder how Vegas will reinvent itself this time. It went from military fun town to gangster playground to the land of Elvis and Liberace to family friendly to very sexy to...? Bargain destination? Branson with a twist? Is that what it will take to keep Vegas from perishing? Perish the thought!
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